Gods and Dogs, The Rude Mechanicals at Baltonsborough and touring

FED up with hitherto dependable newspapers filled up with celebrity gossip … previously intelligent and sensible friends and colleagues taken in by manifest lies and bullshit?

There could hardly have been a better day to watch Gods and Dogs, Pete Talbot’s brilliantly witty new satire for his company the Rude Mechanicals, than on Thursday 23rd June 2022, as part of a full house at Tilham Farm in Baltonsborough. Flung forward a century from the Orwellian classic, it’s set in 2084. Big Al is the all-seeing president, all fake tan and a floppy quiff – a cross between The Great Oz and Big Brother.

The celebrity-obsessed residents of Abatina, policed by the fawning dogs of the state, live for a word of praise from their president, whose all-seeing, all-hearing presence is beamed into their homes and workplaces by sophisticated technological gizmos. Their pleasure is a weekly television programme called Marriage Maker, in which one lucky person is chosen (out of three) to marry a superstar and have three days of hedonistic luxury and sex, before a divorce. Eight episode series mean the star gets to marry eight people over two months.

The Rude Mechanicals play follows what happens when one of the hopefuls falls for the footballer she “wins”, and her friend, sceptical about the whole set-llup, is properly courted by a charming young man who is at war with his own background.

As always with the versatile Rudes, the style is commedia dell’arte, the faces painted in white-mask, the singing, dancing, musicianship and talent enormous. The Eastbourne-based company has built up an eager following around the areas they have regularly toured since 1999. always bringing an original show to an “open air’ audience more familiar with the best-known Shakespeares and adaptations of classic novels.

This year’s company includes regulars, returners and newcomers, as Tom Blake, Georgina Field, Max Gallagher, Evie James, Rowan Talbot, Ed Thorpe and Lia Todd bring 22 characters (and the voice of Big Al) to vivid life.

You won’t see a more inventive look at modern society on stage this year. It never takes itself too seriously, but drives its revelations home with a sparkling little hammer.

The tour continues at Tapeley Park near Bideford in Devon on 24th June and St Andrews Park in Bristol on 25th, returning to the region for four Dorset performances under the Artsreach auspices. Don’t miss the chance to see Gods and Dogs at East Farm, Tarrant Monkton, on Wednesday 20th July, Stourpaine on 21st, Mill Farm at Bradford Abbas on 22nd or Child Okeford on Saturday 23rd July.


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